Change is afoot for the Neahtawanta Inn Bed & Breakfast, the historic inn with a long and rich history on the Old Mission Peninsula. Originally built as a cottage in the late 1800’s, Mary Atherton (Kroupa) opened it as the Sunrise Inn in 1906, adding more rooms over the years and changing the name to Neahtawanta Hotel.
Sally Van Vleck, who has run the Inn for the past 37 years, decided in 2017 to create a new membership-based business model. The idea of creating a community-supported inn came from the community-supported agriculture (CSA) model, in which people buy a “share” in a garden or farm and receive a weekly box of produce all summer.
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Sally says she was attracted to this model as a way of creating a comfortable atmosphere of relaxation, camaraderie and a sense of belonging. Since her husband, Bob Russell, died in 2013, Sally has been operating the Inn with help from live-in assistants. She sees this new model as a way of offering lodging to folks who love being near nature, on the water, in a peaceful place.
After the first experimental year of operation, Sally has revised the system to not only make it work better, but also offer more options to guests. The biggest change is that anyone can stay at the Inn, even if they’re not a member.
The advantages of being a member include earlier access to the booking calendar and discounts on rooms. Members may also invite guests to stay at the Inn at the lower rate, even if the member is not staying overnight.
The Inn also hosts workshops on a number of topics, including nonviolence training, healthy diet, yoga, end of life issues, and environmental stewardship and advocacy.
Now known as the Neahtawanta Community Supported Inn, Sally invites nonprofit organizations and businesses to consider membership in the Inn and use the facility for seminars, meetings and gatherings.
“I’ve launched into this grand experiment, and I am trying to be flexible and allow this concept to evolve, adjusting and revising it as I figure out what works and doesn’t work,” says Sally.
Located at 1308 Neahtawanta Road, Traverse City, MI 49686, the Neahtawanta Community Supported Inn includes more than 300 feet of beach front on Bowers Harbor on the Old Mission Peninsula.
Sally runs the inn on a philosophy of conservation, respect for the Earth, and sustainable living. That includes being ecologically sensitive, using nontoxic products and products made from recycled content, providing recycling options and serving organic food. The gardens surrounding the Inn are maintained without toxic sprays and are fertilized with compost made by Sally and her worms.
Morning yoga classes are available for guests, led by Sally, and the yoga room is open for guests to practice on their own. Sally also teaches weekly yoga classes to local residents. Learn more about the classes here.
The Inn is also home to the Neahtawanta Research and Education Center, a nonprofit organization working on peace, community, sustainable use of resources and personal growth issues.
For more information about the Neahtawanta Community Supported Inn and the new membership-based model, visit the website here or call (231) 290-5040.